Albert's paper treasure trove

IT'S amazing what you find when you are rummaging around in the attic.

Retired Waterside businessman, Albert Smallwoods, is busy sifting through over 30 years worth of ‘stuff’ that got stored in his attic when he moved to his Limavady home in 1976.

The booty, a large proportion of which was newspaper clippings and photographs associated with the charities and organisations with which Albert is associated, spent three decades gathering dust before Albert suddenly decided two years ago to begin sifting his way through it.

Last week he happened upon a newspaper - the Jerusalem Post - dating from 1971, which he bought when he was holidaying in Jerusalem, and which he kept because the front page ran a story of nine soldiers injured in Londonderry by missile throwing rioters.

“I am trying to clear out my roof space,” he said of how he came across the newspaper.

“As you get older the day will come whenever you won’t be able to climb up and it will be left for others to throw the stuff out,” he said.

Now, two years into his mission to rid the attic of three decades of memorabilia and accumulated ‘things’ that never made the display cabinet, Albert is pleased with the amount of valuable information, press clippings and photographs he has been able to pass on to organisations like the Scouts, St John Ambulance, Roads Safety and Home Safety groups, PROBUS and the Church of Ireland World Development organisation.

“In a way over time things just tend to gather up, particularly very old stuff,” he said, adding: “What happened was when I moved house in 1976 all the stuff from the old house went straight up into the attic. There were loads of files and boxes and more files and boxes. There was 34 years worth of inform up in the attic and I have been working my way through it for two years now.”

He continued: ”I have found some interesting things, including St John Ambulance records from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the Scout records, and tomorrow I am going to the St John Ambulance Chapter Meeting in Hillsborough, and I won’t be going empty-handed, as I have a great big bag full of information for them. Their librarian, John Huges, will put that into the museum. It will be catalogued and it will all be there for future generations.”

Albert admitted that he was enjoying his rummage in the attic clearing this out, and confessed that for much of the time he was simply enjoying reminiscing.

“It makes very interesting reading. You even read things about yourself that you forgot about; places you have gone and people you have met, and you think to yourself ‘I don’t remember that’!”

As his massive clear-out draws to a close, Albert said he was particularly delighted to be able to pass on press clippings about the Scouts to head office in Belfast.

“The staff at the Scouts HQ are keen to get anything pre-1972 because the premises went on fire as a result of a bomb and they lost their records. I’m pleased that I have been able to help out and have taken boxes and boxes of stuff up to them.”.